Still Sober: Painting Something Beautiful
E. L. Farris
Volume 21 Issue 19 2013-05-24
The condensation glistens on the pint-sized glass of mahogany beer. A caption on the picture lists the type of beer, and above it, announces the day: National Beer Appreciation Day. It looks like one of those perfect autumn brews.
I wish I was at that bar, with that beer in front of me, and the cold liquid in my mouth, crisp, a tad bitter, a touch sweet; and then itís flowing down my throat and Iím feeling it in my head, this numbing, buzzing, floating feeling. It will take me up and away from the chair my back presses against; it will send me into a new and better stratosphere. A new world. A better one.
It always has had this effect on me. Wherever I was, however I was, it promised to take me away from it. It took me away from the pain and sadness of it all, or it sent me flying into a deeper sadness. You see, I knew it didnít make me feel better. I knew damned well it made me feel worse. And that was what I was bent on doing. Destroying it all, including the good, until I didnít have to see or feel any of it.
Sometimes I admitted it. Usually I lied. I lied to myself. After all, I was just like all the other Americans who drink beer and watch football, and if they were okay, so was I.
I sit there staring at the picture one of my friends has postedóthe glistening pint glass full of beautiful brown beeróand Iím flooded by anger. It feels heavy inside me, just like how I feel after eating too much pasta. Iím angry. Iím really, really angry. Take something and throw it through a window angry . . . scream and yell and flail around on the floor angry.
Why canít I? Why must today and tomorrow stretch into endless eternity . . . why, damn it, why canít I hold a pint in my hand and tip it back and feel the cold liquid turn me warm inside? Why, damn it, why canít I?
A day later, Iím driving westward for my husbandís work picnic. I knead the leather steering wheel with the tips of my fingers. I can feel every thread, and I like to rub my fingers across the stitches again and again as the road folds and rises and falls ahead of me. In a little while, Iíll be greeting people I barely know, and Iíll be fidgeting and worrying and everyone else will be drinking a cold, ice-brewed something or other.
Iíll be holding a diet soda, and Iíll rub my hand over the aluminum and try to hold on and take it all in without being afraid. And then . . . then the sadness will slam into the deepest pit of me. You know the place Iím talking about? The place where you want to mourn for something you thought you had but never really could have, should have owned? A closed-off part of you, an elusive, elemental aloneness that no bottle, no glistening pint of slightly bitter liquid could fill? Itís where some of us go to hide, pretending that with the door shut tight, weíll find peace and love and comfort, but we know that when we open our eyes, all weíll have is the shreds of something real, something good . . . dying slowly inside.
Thatís the colour of what Iím facing. Itís all the colours from a box of childrenís paints mixed in together, and when the child is done playing, there is no hue really, no beauty left, just another shade of putrid greenish-gray. And that, that my friends, is why I donít pick up the glass and pour the liquid down my throat and wait, wait for the colours to fade.
Instead, I hold a paintbrush. I dip it into my favorite colour, which is blue, and I draw my own picture. The pain is still there, but in my mind, I envision something different . . . something better. I pick up the brush. Maybe, just maybe, Iíll paint something beautiful.
Writer E.L. Farris blogs at Running from Hell with El.
To comment on this article, email email@example.com.
Search The Voice:
weekly notices when The Voice is
Go here if you no longer wish to receive our email notifications.